Objective: Our purpose was to determine whether the onset of the HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count) syndrome in women at < or =28.0 weeks' gestation is associated with an increased risk of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes in comparison with the risk for women with severe preeclampsia but without the HELLP syndrome at a similar gestational age.
Study design: Sixty-four patients with either the HELLP syndrome (n = 32) or severe preeclampsia but absent HELLP syndrome laboratory test results (n = 32), admitted at < or =28.0 weeks' gestation between July 1, 1992, and April 30, 1999, were studied. Maternal and perinatal outcomes were compared between the 2 groups. Statistical analysis was performed by the Student t test and the Fisher exact test.
Results: There were no significant differences between the 2 groups regarding African-American race (59% vs 75%), nulliparity (50% vs 56%), or the use of corticosteroids (59% vs 78%). There were no maternal deaths. One woman with the HELLP syndrome had a liver hematoma. The rate at which transfusion of blood products was required was significantly greater in women with the HELLP syndrome than in those with severe preeclampsia only (25% vs 3%; P <.05). There were no significant differences between the 2 groups with respect to eclampsia (16% vs 13%), abruptio placentae (6% vs 9%), disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (13% vs 0%), pulmonary edema (13% vs 6%), acute renal failure (3% vs 0%), pleural effusion (3% vs 3%), or ascites (6% vs 16%). No significant differences were found between the 2 groups with respect to neonatal death (11% vs 17%), respiratory distress syndrome (78% vs 86%), or composite neonatal morbidity.
Conclusions: Except for the need for transfusion of blood products in women with the HELLP syndrome, onset at < or =28.0 weeks' gestation is not associated with an increased risk of adverse maternal or neonatal outcomes in comparison with the risk for women with severe preeclampsia but without the HELLP syndrome at a similar gestational age.